Members of the Wisconsin women\’s hockey team skate off the ice Saturday following an emotional season-ending 4-3 loss to Ohio State.[/media-credit]VERONA — Just one year after storming to an NCAA National Championship, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team saw their season cut short with a final blemish in a year filled with pockmarks.Both games went down to the wire as the Badgers were upset by visiting Ohio State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.In a best-of-three series, UW could not contain OSU’s two Patty Kazmaier Award nominees, Hokey Langan and Natalie Spooner, as each recorded hat tricks en route to the Buckeyes sweeping the Badgers in two overtime games at the Eagle’s Nest in Verona.National champions just a year ago, the series loss marks the first time Wisconsin has failed to qualify for the WCHA Final Face-Off since the league expansion required a quarterfinal series to be played prior to the tournament.Taking off from where they left things in a 3-2 win in game one, the Buckeyes entered game two of the series with an efficient offense that kept the Badgers on their toes.Nearly seven minutes into the game, Langan found an open look from the right side of Wisconsin goaltender Alannah McCready where she deked and pushed it through.The Buckeyes displayed a strong offense early that was able to sustain possession of the puck long enough to create good looks at the net.“A lot of their shots got through,” McCready said. “They were blocking a lot of ours, which was unfortunate but they never gave up and were working hard until the end and it paid off for them.”Things continued to look grim for the Badgers. About two minutes later, Langan again struck for the Buckeyes on a power play, firing down an open lane from the right faceoff circle and in the net.However, the Badgers refused to lie down and watch the Buckeyes escape unchallenged as they would even the score before intermission.Two minutes after Langan recorded her second goal, freshman Alev Kelter fired a laser from the left faceoff circle that was redirected by sophomore Carolyn Prevost in front of the goal to cut the lead in half.Later, with 54 seconds left in the first period, Wisconsin struck again when team captain Jasmine Giles knocked in her sixth goal in five games after receiving the feed from sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman.“Brooke had it behind the net, she luckily got the pass out to me and I threw it to the far side,” Giles said. “I just luckily got it in and over her shoulder.”Momentum began to steadily swing in Wisconsin’s favor in the second period, but the Badgers could not quite cash in. Though Wisconsin maintained strong possession of the puck near the Ohio State goal the Badgers were repeatedly turned away as the Buckeye defenders successfully clogged the lanes.Out of 30 second-period shots, the defense blocked 13.“We shot right into them half the time,” senior forward Kyla Sanders said. “We were talking about it in the locker room, how there were so many attempted shots — we just had to make that quick move to get around them but it didn’t work out.”The Buckeyes reclaimed the lead 16 seconds into the third period when Langan completed her hat trick off a shot from the left circle that hit the bar and bounced in.Competition heated up from there as the referees allowed several small physical altercations to play out.“We noticed the refs maybe put their whistles away for a moment but they brought them back in overtime,” interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser said. “I think they were just trying to maintain control and safety through the game but at the same time, letting the intensity and the emotion take its course.”As time continued to tick away, the intensity of the Badgers grew.But thanks to a high level of preparedness, panic never settled in. The Badgers pulled McCready for an extra skater, and Sanders was able to push the puck into the net with 1:06 remaining to secure overtime.“We had practiced a scenario like that — we figured it would be a one-goal game either night and so we practiced pulling our goalie,” DeKeyser said. “They executed, which was great to see.”Although they were riding a wave of momentum heading into overtime, UW committed a devastating turnover three minutes into the period and could only watch as OSU’s Raelyn LaRocque broke free and took on McCready one-on-one before flipping the puck into the net for the 4-3 win.“Unfortunately we got so excited in the offensive zone we had five people below the tops of the circles and that generated a breakout for them,” DeKeyser said.Friday’s game featured a similar script; only it was Wisconsin that jumped out to an early lead.Five minutes into the game, Ammerman put back a rebound off an attempt from Giles near the goal. Seven minutes later, Breann Frykas launched a shot from the right face-off circle that gave UW a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.Ohio State stole the momentum back in the second period when Spooner recorded two goals to tie it up heading into the second intermission.After a scoreless third period, Spooner delivered the final ingredient of her hat trick in overtime, shooting nearby the goal to collect the 3-2 win.
With 12:30 to go in the second half, backup Taylor Nims received a pass from fellow reserve Marley Ciferri. She turned her stick, whipping a behind-the-back goal into the net.The goal gave Syracuse an eye-popping 18-goal lead. It was that kind of day for the Orange, which completely dominated Cincinnati on Saturday in arguably its most complete game of the season.‘Solid effort from top to bottom today,’ SU head coach Gary Gait said. ‘Challenged the players not to play down and give their best effort and stay focused throughout the entire game, and they did everything we asked today.’Every player who dressed for the game played. And 13 scored for the Orange (7-7, 5-1 Big East) in its 20-3 thrashing of Cincinnati (2-13, 0-7) on Saturday in front of 508 inside the Carrier Dome. SU knew going into the game that Cincinnati wasn’t one of the better teams it would face this season. The Bearcats are at the bottom of the Big East and have never beaten the Orange in the program’s five years of existence.But unlike many teams that often overlook lesser opponents, the Orange didn’t look past the Bearcats. Instead, it scored a season high in goals while allowing a season low in a complete-game effort.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘You’re going to give 100 percent whenever you’re out there, and that’s what we always talk about every game,’ Gait said. ‘Not just taking it easy, not relaxing, but if you’re out there, play hard.’The Orange scored early and never let up. SU ran out to a 9-0 lead and led 12-1 at halftime. Even the lucky shots found their way into the goal for SU. A little more than four minutes into the game, attack Tee Ladouceur sent a shot at the goal. It bounced off Cincinnati goaltender Jen Walsh and into the net, giving Syracuse an early 2-0 lead.Later, Ladouceur passed to Sarah Holden as players from both teams crowded around the goal. When it looked like SU had missed its opportunity to score, Holden was able to poke the ball into the net on a sloppy but lucky play to put SU up 9-0.Ladouceur, a senior who had a game-high six points on Senior Day, emphasized it was the things Syracuse did right that won it the game — not what Cincinnati did wrong.‘Definitely, we came together,’ Ladouceur said. ‘After part of the Louisville game, we didn’t really do our best as an attacking unit, so that’s something that we worked toward today.’As impressive as the offense was, though, the defense was equally dominating. Cincinnati managed only nine shots in the game. The Syracuse goaltenders only had four saves, but that was a product of the SU defense. The Bearcats couldn’t get any shots off.The defense hounded Cincinnati all day, forcing 17 turnovers.‘It’s just a confidence builder for our defense,’ senior goaltender Liz Hogan said. ‘It’s good for our confidence.’Six minutes into the game, Hogan made a difficult save and passed it back to the SU offense. On her lone goal of the game, attack Michelle Tumolo stuck a laser into the right side of the net.With both sides of the ball working flawlessly for much of the game, anything Cincinnati tried didn’t work. It switched goaltenders, but Haley Marvine allowed six goals in relief. It tried to be physical, but picked up four yellow cards. It couldn’t keep up with SU.‘It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’re not going to take it easy or relax,’ Gait said. ‘It’s nice to see that the practice that they do pays off. It was well done by all.’The win was necessary for Syracuse’s push to the conference tournament — the Orange clinched a spot in the Big East tournament with the win. But it was also a confidence booster as the season winds down.It was the kind of game where everything seemed to go right for the Orange.‘Hopefully it’s a good game to build off of,’ Gait said. ‘You feel good, everybody feels happy, but you’ve got to stay focused and mentally tough.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on April 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Rachel: [email protected]
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